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3 Fun Low-Prep Backyard Activities for Kids

2.5 Minute Read

No matter the weather or the pressures of the day, time spent outdoors enjoying nature is wonderful for kids. Sometimes, however, packing the kids up and getting them outside feels like a lot of work, especially if you need to prep an activity.

We’re here with fun, low-prep backyard activities for kids. These will make the great outdoors even greater – a playground, even when you don’t have time or energy.

Outdoor fun does not have to be complicated. With these low-prep activities, you could get the whole family out the door in no time at all, and keep them engaged, too. Look forward to a summer (or fall, winter, or spring) of fun (and occupied children) by keeping this list handy.

Get Inspired by Nature – No Prep Needed!

Little girls playing together outside

Shutterstock; Photo by Pond Saksit

The easiest low-prep activity (or no prep activity) relies on nature itself. There are so many wonderful things to observe in the natural world, you can have hours of fun. Even better, this fun comes with no cleanup, no props, and no pressure.

One excellent way to get inspired is to look up. The sky offers all kinds of interesting activities, like looking for different cloud shapes or trying to find constellations. You can also keep an eye out for birds, counting them or keeping track of which types you see.

Closer to the earth, families can wander the backyard looking for animal tracks, hunting for bugs, or drawing with sticks on a muddy day. Your kids can also use sticks to weave, make crowns, or create art with other features like stones or flowers. There are also many opportunities for low-prep activities involving trees. A classic, of course, is to climb a tree and grab a view from a different vantage point. Tree-hugging, tree-painting with mud, and simply running a circuit around trees are popular with kids. It is amazing what they can come up with when they’re outside and eager. Inspire them with a suggestion and watch them come up with their own activities.

Introducing Simple Props

Two little boys playing with toy cars on a chalk-drawn intersection

Shutterstock; Photo by Pavel Kobysh

While nature is full of treasures, there are also low-prep activities requiring a handful of household objects or toys. Everyone loves blowing bubbles, for example. A toy car making tracks in the mud is a great way to enjoy the yard after it rains. Chalk is perfect for freestyle drawing or for creating games or paths on the ground.

A pair of binoculars can make any of the previously mentioned nature-oriented activities that much better. With binoculars, bird watching is easier, kids can zoom in on bugs, or they can take a closer look at the clouds.

Chalk is perfect for freestyle drawing or for creating games or paths on the ground.

With a recycled jar from the kitchen, your kids can create a tiny natural world or collect unusual rocks or sticks. You can also use the jar to collect items that you can then turn out and sort by color, size, or another category.

Water play is always a hit outside and requires minimal prep. A sprinkler or hose can entertain for hours. Wash toys, fill a bucket to see what sinks and what floats, or hose down the car!

Play Some Classic Outdoor Games

Little girl hiding behind a tree trunk outside

Shutterstock; Photo by Phovoir

Some of the most fun outdoor games of childhood are classic for a reason. They are easy to play, low-prep, and a lot of fun. If you are stuck for ideas, ask your kids to suggest a game.

Unlike activities that require modern technology, classic outdoor games are usually about movement and imagination. Hide and seek, for example, is a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Keep it varied with different counting times, using a home base, and switching up hiders and seekers.

Red Light, Green Light is another good choice. One participant acts as the traffic light at one end of the yard, facing away from the others. Everyone else lines up opposite the traffic light. When the traffic light turns around, he or she yells red light and everyone has to stop as quickly as possible. Anyone moving must return to the starting point. When the traffic light turns back around and says green, players continue to move forward and attempt to tag the traffic light.

Mother May I works similarly, with players asking “Mother, may I take x steps forward?” Mother can say yes or no. Players can try variations like the types of steps. Try leaping steps, spinning steps, or hops!

Keeping things simple helps us be more flexible and more inventive. These are excellent qualities, and they can help us keep kids amused and create great memories.

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